Pickering writer pens children’s tale on Harriet Tubman and 1860s St. Catharines

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Published March 3, 2023 at 1:04 pm

Pickering author and historian Channon Oyeniran has written a children’s book that will challenge traditional narratives on Canadian history, especially about the role Black Canadians played in this country’s early years, and “turn children into heroes” to help free enslaved people.

The Time Travels of Ara, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad is the first in a five-part series written by Oyeniran, a noted public speaker on Black history and the vice-president of the Ontario Black History Society. Oyeniran, also a PhD student and the co-founder of Oyeniran Education Support (OyES), believes the book will help give children the “opportunity to learn about different cultures and histories beyond what they learn” in traditional history books.

Ara, the main character in the book, travels back in time and meets different Black historical figures and learns about Black Canadian history. He also learns about his Jamaican and Nigerian heritage and his family roots before travelling back to 1860 St. Catharines, where he gets to meet the famous Underground Railroad ‘conductor’ Harriet Tubman. Ara goes on adventures with Harriet and learns more about her life, how she made it to Canada and also helps rescue enslaved people trying to make it to Canada to regain their freedom.

Oyeniran has written more than a dozen articles on Black history and has helped develop Black history curriculum and equity manuals for the corporate world.

As a Ph.D. scholar at Queens University, she has been involved in the geography and movement of people with several peer-reviewed publications to her credit and recently curated several exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum.

A busy public speaker who gave the keynote address February 4 for Durham Black History Month and gave talks at Durham College (Feb. 9) and the Durham District Catholic School Board (Feb. 27), Oyeniran is also the founder and host of the Looking into the Future Black History Month conference, which held its 8th annual event Feb. 25 at St. Francis Centre in Ajax.

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